After the success of my first Bike trip, I decided to dare for something bigger. My friend Mark was in Hungary, and the tickets were quite expensive as it was a on the go plan. So I took this opportunity, and decided to go visit him by bicycle. I also really wanted to see again a group of scouts that I’d met during my hitchhiking trip in Sardinia (see trip). They were from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which was more or less along the way, so I said to myself… why not? Well, from everyone’s point of view the Why Nots were very clear. But for me it was all about what I would get from it, not about the who cares about any problem at may happen on the way. I decided to spend very very little money in this trip. So again I used my high tech tools (a pen and a paper to write down my itinerary, didn’t even take a map as I thought this would increase the difficulty, therefore the fun as well). I packed with me in a rucksack a tent (I bought it for about 8 euros in Auchan and it wasn’t even waterproof), sleeping bag, mat, some food and puncture repair kit, some very light sport shoes (they were very light because they were filled with holes and were half rotten, and we use them at home when we fix the garden or cut the grass), this time I took with me some tights that I had back from when I used to play Rugby for Luxembourg. My equipment was crap, and I didn’t even have a place to hold the rucksack. But little did I care and even less did it matter because my mind was already programmed to succeed. When your mind is there, the rest follows. So I said hasta la vista, and off I was.
This trip was sooo much fun and soooo depressing at some points. It was like a walk on a fine line, or a path from which I could see my whole life and destiny. It’s hard to explain. The easy part to explain is that I was the king of my world, and I was on top of it. I was creating my own path, and I was loving it. Some other times, when adversity hit, I felt like shit. I missed my girlfriend so damn much, I missed the comfort of my home and friends. I missed the comfort zone. And it was an amazing feeling. You appreciate things so much more when you lose them. And I was really enjoying the experience. I remember some mornings waking up with 2 degrees Celsius, in a completely soaked sleeping bag, shivering of cold. Then having to drain the water away from my socks (completely soak), turning upside down my shoes with holes so some more water would fall out, and then I would start laughing of how happy I was. It is not a psycho thing to do. I was just happy that I was doing what I wanted to do. I wanted this, I wanted adventure, I wanted to experience new feelings and to learn loads, I wanted to appreciate the world from another point of view, and that was what this trip was about. Then, completely cold, and wet, I would just say to myself the faster you bike the warmer you’ll get. So off I was again!
Sometimes I would get lost and I would ask people how I could get to a place. People would look at me perplexed, and say: are you crazy? (Bist du verrückt? (In German)) It’s so far away!, I just told them yeah, it doesn’t matter, I’ll get there eventually.
On the way to Garmish-Partenkirchen (GP), as I was cycling, another cyclist went past me a bit faster. So of course, I speeded up at went past him myself. Then we started laughing and talking. His name was Felix, and he was doing a bike trip as well. We decided to bike together for some days, and we both stayed at my friends place in GP. We stopped there for a few days to climb mountains, swim in rivers and lakes in the middle of nowhere, slide down the 1936 winter Olympics stadium which happened while Hitler. We also went with Hubi and some other scouts through canyons in the middle of the night with some fire torches, and visited old castles of which the legend said of them to be hunted. Fun times!
When we said goodbye, I cried, because we had become such good friends in such little time. After I left GP myself, I set off for Austria, and crossed it. Salzburg was soo beautiful, and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the steep hill at the exit. I remember having to go up about 1200 m since the road went over the mountains. The downhill part was more fun.
About the 4th day of biking, I met this Croatian dude of about 55 that had done loads of bike trips all around. This summer he was going to do most European capitals (2 months on an average of 200 km a day). He was in good shape, and we biked together for some time and he gave me tips. E.g. stretching.
I would camp in the middle of corn or wheat fields (for shelter from wind and peoples view). But sometimes I would have no choice but to do plan B. E.g. One night, I had already set up my tent on top of a beautiful hill with nice views, done my daily PM stretching, and was looking forward for a well deserved night sleep, when I saw far away these massive thunders. The timing of the trip wasn’t optimal, as I left start of September, which is the start of the rain season (as I discovered by myself). With the storm fast approaching, I literally almost shit in my pants (I just had to write that), and I’ve never in my life packed everything sooo fast. Basically I packed everything in about 90 seconds, and off I was on my bike on the road hoping to find a city nearby. When I found one it had already started raining. I got lucky, and I saw some old people standing talking under roof just outside a home. I told them the following in my crappy German: Hallo, Ich mache eine Fahrad reisse von Luxembourg nach Budapest in Hungarien. Normalerweise mache ich camping aber das wetter ist heute nicht so Gut. Haben Sie vielleicht einen Platz wo Ich heute Nacht schlaffen kann? Ich brauche nur etwas unter einem Dach. Vielleicht einem Garage? Alles geht. Vielen vielen Dank. Which basically means, bla blab la do you have anywhere under a roof where I could sleep? Thank you thank you. So as always, I got lucky. That night they let me sleep in a wooden hut with some plastic doors and windows, and they offered me food and even beer! When you do trips, you realise that most people are good, and some are assholes. The truly happy people are always the good people. Man, lucky I decided to pack my tent, because if I hadn’t I would have been in big-time trouble. During the crazy rain, thunders fell one after the other, and some about 100m away from where I was. (Sound travels at about 330 m/s, and there was like 0.3 seconds from when I saw the thunder and heard some of the noises). Man that was loud.
Other night it would also rain like crazy, so I started knocking on peoples doors asking for a place to sleep and I arrived to this rural hotel. I told the woman I was travelling with almost no money (which I was), and so she let me sleep in her sons old room in the basement. Finally I could dry my stuff even if it was only for a few hours. Then I went upstairs and started telling the guests some of my adventures on the way. We had a good laugh and it was nice to feel like at home. Man that was a good night sleep!
Another night it was raining loads, and I was completely soaked, but it would have been no fun if I would have slept at someone’s place again, so I decided to find something else. Finally I found a train station. I slept in the waiting room. I put my stuff to dry on the radiator, so they would get dry, but this also made the windows fill with dew, so it was harder to see me in there. It was warm in the room, and I met some drunken guys in the middle of the night. In the morning the security guard threw me out and this was a good thing as otherwise I would have stayed there for weeks until I would see the sun again.
One night in Hungary, I decided to sleep in a forest. My phone was wet so the battery had died, and when night fell I almost shit on my pants. At midnight I started hearing noises of footsteps getting closer and closer to my tent. Then around it. Then the noise started fading a bit away. Then out of nowhere I took my pocket lamp and opened my tent. Man that forest was dark. I saw nothing but heard things. I had fear for my life. However I said fuck it and started talking in the dark. Maybe it was someone good or bad, maybe it was an animal. I will never know. Morning came and although I was freezing my ass off, I was the happiest person alive since I was alive in full integrity. For some of the readers here maybe it seems like I’m exaggerating. And maybe I am from their point of view. But if they’d been there maybe they would feel something different. Anyway I got to a petrol station, and talked to the guy, bought a map (since I had gotten lost and they didn’t really speak English and I wanted to get to the lake Ballaton. I charged my phone and texted my dad that I was fine. Texted Mark that I was at 190km from him, and off I was again. It was a particular experience biking in an ex-communist country with a bright pink bicycle. I would get strange (sometimes mean and evil) looks from people. I was very drained mentally, from everything I’d been through, and I couldn’t have a very strong emotional shelter, so it affected me somewhat, and I felt very unwanted there. But I kept going, munching on my sweets and chocolate cookies.
I saw loads of dead animals on the road, and it made me think a lot. I felt so sorry for them. I even thought about banning all the cars in the world so that these animals would not have to die. I was in another state of mind. I saw some big hot air balloon competition happening near the Hungarian border.
My Achilles tendon started hurting big-time and I realised I had a fibrosis (As I would move my foot it would feel like tearing up a t-shirt. Like over elongating a rubber band and hearing it sort of crack). So what? I was having loads of fun despite what others might consider as painful or torture. Because deep inside, I knew that this trip would give me back something much bigger, a very big internal reward. A tremendous sense of achievement and pleasure wrapped up in effort and toughness.
The roads in Hungary were really fucked up. The only ones that were alright were the main ones, so I followed them. I wanted to get to Budapest quickly, very quickly, and I wanted it very bad. So I kept on the main road until I had to choose: Highway or small very very shitty road. My bike had some trouble already and I didn’t have the tools to fix it, and the small road did quite a big detour. It was a rainy Sunday, so I hoped the police would be busy, and off I went choosing the highway. I followed the highway for about 130 km. Lol Yes I know. But for me it seemed like the best option. Finally I found some cycle paths and could leave the highway.
Arriving to Budapest and meeting Mark felt like the best thing that had happened to me in my life. Then In Budapest, we went to some Spas (thermal springs) to chill out and had loads of fun going around the city meeting loads of cool people, partying on roof tops (and tasting the local schnapps) and even participating in the then happening riots!
Total: About 1500km in 10 biking days. I started cycling about 120 km a day and increases that distance day by day as I got fitter. It is truly crazy how fast your body can change and adapt. What an amazing experience! There are some things that cannot be described, feelings that cannot be imagined until lived, and my challenge to you is to go find them. Go to the point of no coming back, go till you can’t push through anymore, and you will find yourself there. Have fun!